The Future of Medical Alert Technology

by Stephanie Cion, contributing author

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In the age of technology, quick and easy access to information is paramount. From ATM machines to stock trading websites and ordering clothing online, virtually everything is available to consumers by the touch of a button or the click of a mouse. We can access a vast array of personal information—including bank accounts, stocks, books we owe to the library, photos and more—instantaneously. Yet there is a gaping hole in the access to our most vital information—our health records.

Until very recently, there was not a system available that allowed individuals to access their medical information, including test results, referrals, X-rays and MRIs. Nor was there a way to download and print out doctor forms at any time, day or night. Now companies like WELLalarm™ and search engines like Google are changing the way individuals and medical professionals share and access information.

Emergency Services of the Past

In the past century, medical alert jewelry has come a long way. Before the 1950s, if someone had a severe allergy or condition where improper treatment could be fatal, they would have to create their own means of notifying the general public. Some made paper bracelets, got a bracelet engraved or pinned a note to their coat when they were away from home. These homemade medical alert tags would say the name of the disease or allergy, or might direct an emergency responder to “see wallet card” for a detailed explanation.

MedicAlert, which produced medical alert bracelets, was founded in the 1950s and quickly developed an international presence due to high demand. In an emergency, responders can call MedicAlert’s 24-hour Emergency Response Center where they provide the users membership number to an operator who looks up their information. This system has saved thousands of lives, but lacks the efficiency of an automated system, which internet and mobile technology can now provide.

The Future of Medical Alert Technology

The next phase of medical alert product will harness the most current technology to deliver life-saving information with the utmost efficiency. For example, the iPhone is equipped with Emergency Card where users can store emergency contacts, blood type, allergies and more.

WELLalarm is the heralding the next phase in the evolution of emergency response services. WELLalarm uses cutting-edge technology including a highly optimized mobile system to quickly convey all necessary information in an emergency. The life-saving information can be communicated through multiple means—including a toll-free phone number, text message and an emergency website. Emergency contacts are also automatically notified by phone, text or email that the users account has been accessed. Users are not limited to wearing bracelets or necklaces—they can also use key chains, wallet ID cards, stickers for their cell phone or iron-on clothing labels.

WELLalarm allows users to streamline their health information in their web-based account. This way, people don’t need to fill out the same paperwork all the time. People are busier than ever, and increasingly adept with managing their information online.

Some health insurance providers have solutions to streamline user’s information. The disadvantage is that this information can be used against you for claims data. In addition, people change their health insurance more frequently, and can lose access to this information when they change insurers. With chronic illness on the rise, people are also seeing more specialists than in the past. This makes it essential for individuals to have copies of their records and store their personal health information in one place.

Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault have also stepped in to act as intermediaries connecting hospitals and healthcare providers. They allow users to store their information in one central place, control who sees it and share the information with family members. The disadvantage is that they do not provide a way to act on the information in an emergency. Other record storage systems such as www.mymedicalrecords.com have the same limitations—users can not act on the information in an emergency.

WELLalarm is the service of the future, because it marries private record storage with an emergency service. Users can store and interact with their confidential records their private password-protected account. They can set up alerts to remind about prescription refills and doctor appointments. They can fax test results and other records from their account to their doctor. Users also enjoy mobile interaction with their data on any mobile device, without the security risk that people face when storing information on an iPhone application.

Many Americans, especially aging baby boomers, are finding that trips to doctors and specialists are creating mountains of paperwork. Managing appointments, test results and prescriptions is a time-consuming endeavor. To eliminate the paperwork and keep everything in a centralized location, services are now being offered that allow people to upload everything from EKGs to their children’s fingerprints and lists of allergies.

In addition to uploading, faxing and downloading information, users can take advantage of email and SMS message reminders for doctor’s appointments and prescription refills. Being able to email test results and medical records directly to your doctor prior to the appointment allows for more effective use of appointment time.

In the personalized health information economy, the individual is using technology to take charge of their health records. The benefit is that it’s becoming easier than ever to access your information in an emergency and be in control of your health, rather than overwhelmed. In addition to storing confidential health records, WELLalarm allows users to pre-designate vital information that can be accessed by others in an emergency. WELLalarm has embraced the idea of marrying existing technologies with web-based services. Their modern and sophisticated medical jewelry, called WELLcharms and WELLtags, link the jewelry to a voice system and website. This allows for instant access to vital medical information. Combining internet and text message technologies with existing emergency medical solutions, like customized medical jewelry is the latest offering in medical and emergency record management. The immediacy of response that WELLalarm offers makes the company competitive among the latest personalized health information services.

As the market emerges and a myriad of services are offered, the question that remains is, what level of responsibility will consumers take in order to protect the lives of themselves and their loved ones?

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